The Story Behind the Song — Distant Thunder by Allen Weber
I already had the groove for the bass line written. I had written it a few years before. Acdtually what I do is keep some recorders neqar me, so when a groove, or melody or chord changes pop in my head, I can get them down and don’t lose them.
But I knew the song could not just stay with the pattern. You know, the bass riff you hear as the bass fades in as the song begins.
Repeated enough it gets really boring not only to listen to, but also to play!
So Many Choices!
I knew I needed to get a melody part to go over the opening bass riff. So Immediately I grabbed my trusty Zoom h4n recorder, plugged in my bass (which I use solely for writing what I think are cool bass riffs for song ideas) and recorded the bass riff, and playing it over and over it for 10 minutes. That gave me a base to figure out a melody over.
Then I plugged in my guitar and started recording melody ideas. And ohhhhhh boy, did the ideas come
Fortunately, I was recording or they would have been lost forever.
I ended up with about 35 minutes of melody ideas not repeating a single one.
Just a Melody & Bass Riff Do Not A Song Make!
So, after all these melody ideas — some good and some really sucked. I started to cull the ones i thought were better.
I did not want solos over the bass riff. I knew the song had to go somewhere. And I knew I needed a break in the melody. One looooong melody would get really boring.
So I started thinking of riffs that could work. I played a bunch of them on my guitar, and finally one came into being.
That is the riff you hear on the song, in-between the two melody sections.
This was the hardest song I ever wrote! I had just too many great sounding melody ideas. Too many to use in a single song.
So I kept cutting and cutting, and cutting.
Eventually, after about three months of cutting and re-arranging the melody lines, I had a small group in the sequence I wanted them that I thought sound right together.
Kind of a Frankenstein writing technique. Just piece parts together so they flow.
Once I had the melody lines down, it was time to figure out the best chords that would give the feel I wanted to the song.
I needed chords that sounded good, contrasting with, yet supporting the melody.
The first chords I had wanted to use, just did not seem to work the way I was hoping. A totally different and unepxected feel, and NOT what I was trying to convey with the song in “Spirit”So it took a lot of experimentation.
I based my chords not around the melody, at first. I used the bass riff. And if you know the bass riff, you will see it is very open to a wide variety of chords.
Finally I picked the ones I thought worked well, with both melody and bass riff.
I wanted something more energetic for the solos.
So once again I started messing around on my guitar working out different riffs that would be fun to solo over.
Eventually I got one. And then I wanted some chords that are not the ordinary minor7 or 9th, etc.
After experimenting I came up with some. And they are not suspended 4th, which some people may think.
For any musicians reading this, your challenge is to figure out the chords and report back here with what you think they are.
Time To Test
So I brought the song in to rehearsal with the musicians I hired to be on the recording, (my “Hot Shock band” — so to speak)
After some rehearsal of the song, and getting everyone’s feel right, the breaks right, and fade in’s/fade out’s I still found the melody lasted too long!
In fact, the song became an 18 minute tome, In spite of cutting!!! Me and my melody ideas
So I whittled down th melody more.
We went in and recorded the song. By that time I had cut out a lot of the melody lines I wanted to use. But I will use them in future songs. So it was not a loss.
After the song was recorded, it was over 13 minutes long.
Far too long.
So I took a hatchet to the melody, and cut and cut (which tore my heart out, because I loved everything I cut) and I ended up with a song that lasts 9 minutes and thirty two seconds! Still a bit long, but, that’s the way it goes sometimes.
After Recording Playing it Live
After the recording, I took the musicians to a local club not known for dancing, and we played the song Distant Thunder.
Immediately, people’s heads started bouncing in time to the opening bass line. Their eyes started getting wide. And soon they started dancing.
I’m positive you will love the song too!
Why not check it out?
You Can Get Your Copy the digital track of Distant Thunder at:
cdBaby: Distant Thunder MP3, MP3-320, and FLAC files
Or at TheJazzBox.ca Distant Thunder MP3
And if you are so inclined, you can find Distant Thunder listed under Allen Weber Hot Shock at iTunes, Spotify,Last.fm and a host of other sites. If you have a favorite site for buying music, please let us know so we can get the material listed there too.
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